All posts by Christena

Photographer and writer, who's a bit of a taphophile and loves true crime, history, wildlife, and Goth music. Most of all a dog-lover.

Lonely Plains Church of Taiban, New Mexico



Taiban Church

This church sits on the western edge of the Llano Estacado in Eastern New Mexico (NM).  I drive by it every time I travel to the beautiful Land of Enchantment.  It is a lone sentential of Neo-Classical architecture that has long since been abandoned.  Back in 2012, I walked just south of the church to photograph its lasting glory against the backdrop of its surrounding landscape of the plains and mesas.

This church was a Presbyterian Church built in 1908.  It was officially finished on December 22, 1908.  The building cost was estimated at around $250.00.  A significant feature of the church involved its lighting method that was provided by a pressure system that pumped kerosene to the lamps.  When parishioners left the church at night the lights would still be burning giving an eternal glow to its surroundings until the pressure dropped.  Remarkably, there were no pews in the church, only cane bottom chairs.  The lingering drought finally took its toll on the little church as it did with many small towns and it was disbanded in 1936.

In trying to find out more information on the church, I stopped by the Billy Kid Museum in Fort Sumner, NM and spoke with Donald Sweet.  The bell that hung in the church tower now resides at the museum.  Later, Mr. Sweet showed me a poem written by Bob Bird on this church.  A few excerpts from the poem:


From Cowboys on the ranges

To the folks who tended stores

The strongest men were humbled when they entered through its doors….

A house that faith erected

For among the waving gramma grass a sentinel remains

The little church that watches over Taiban on the Plains.


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Photograph – © Christena Stephens Photography


The Hunt Story…



In October 1943 when Dr. Roy and Mae Hunt are found brutally murdered and disturbingly tied in their bed in a West Texas town, two suspects emerged in the slayings, but solving their murders came down to a bungled investigation and weak forensics, even the fatal bullet that took Roy’s life disappeared.  Adding to the mystery was the attempted murder of Dr. Hunt over a year earlier.  The only eyewitness who saw the murderer, Jo Ann Hunt, their five-year-old daughter, tells her harrowing account for the first time shedding new light on what transpired in the Hunt home when her parents were murdered.  “Fatal Bullets and the Search for Justice” details the murders and investigation through trial transcripts and appeal records and newspaper accounts.  Through extensive research, this story provides insights into how investigators mishandled this murder investigation on various levels.

I’ve spent six years with these unimaginable murders, telling the story – now to find a publisher so it can be shared.

Photograph – © Christena Stephens Photography